The prairie mole cricket (Gryllotalpa major Saussure) is a rare endemic of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem of the south central United States. Males advertise for females using a low frequency acoustic signal from surface burrows aggregated in leks, but much of the spatial variation observed within the lek remains unexplained. This study reports on the relationship between male spacing and grassland habitat structure within the display arena. The data suggest that as grass heights increase within the lek arena, advertising males increase the distance between their burrows and increase the angle of the surface opening of the burrow. The positive correlation between biomass and spacing was not also seen between biomass and angle of the burrow opening. Prairie mole cricket males, thus, exhibit a form of behavioral plasticity that may have evolved in response to the dynamic disturbance regimes that form and maintain the tallgrass prairie ecosystem.
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Vol. 161 • No. 2